Orlando, Florida, might be known most for Universal Studios and Disney World. Still, there is much more to do here on your trip to Florida. The great city of Orlando is home to many entertainment parks, museums, and outdoor activities.
So whether you’re visiting to explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or kayak local waterways, you’ll be excited to learn about all the things to do in Orlando and the surrounding areas.
With so many things to do in Orlando, planning it all out can be overwhelming. Don’t worry! This article will cover all of the best things to do no matter what you are interested in.
Museums in Orlando
Orlando features a variety of museums which is a unique way to experience Orlando. Some are traditional museums in the conventional sense of the word. In contrast, others are more unique, like Ripleys Believe It or Not! Stop by one of these cool things to do on your trip to Orlando.
Orlando Museum of Art
If you are an art-lover, the Orlando Museum of Art is one of the best things to do in Orlando. This museum is home to many permanent art collections ranging from the Art of the Ancient Americans to African and Contemporary Art.
First opening its doors in 1924, the Orlando Museum of Art is now one of Orlando’s primary cultural mainstays and is home to more than 2,400 objects.
While visiting the museum, you can wander the halls and see work from Georgia O’Keefe, Charles Sheeler, and as of 2018, Louis Dweis. In addition, part of the building includes mid-century architecture created by students of Frank Lloyd Wright, turning the building into a museum.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to truly appreciate this space between the architecture and the sheer amount of art in this unique thing to do.
Orlando Science Center
The Orlando Science Center is a unique hands-on science museum that should top everyone’s list of fun things to do in Orlando. This all-ages activity has exhibits, live programming, theaters, events, etc.
Once you arrive, you’ll notice just how grand this center is. There are four floors of interactive exhibit halls, labs, and workshops for children and adults of all ages.
In fact, the Orlando Science Center has specialized activities for each age group to deepen the learning experience. For example, KidsTown is an 11,000-square-foot center of skill-based activities for children aged 0-7.
Older kids will love DinoDigs, where they can uncover the past and explore the prehistoric world of dinosaurs, which is one of the many exhibit halls in the Orlando Science Center. With over 600,000 annual visitors, don’t miss out on this popular attraction!
Madame Tussauds is located next to ICON Park in Orlando and is one of the most famous wax museums that attract visitors worldwide. Madame Tussauds frequently adds brand new figures from popular culture, one of the unique things to do in Orlando.
Imagine walking through this fantastic experience and seeing all the famous wax figures you recognize.
Madame Tussauds updates the figures as pop culture trends change. Still, some wax figures, like Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Elvis Presley, and Muhammad Ali, stand the test of time.
Walking through the facility, you can see figures from movies such as characters like E.T. or movie stars like Jennifer Aniston. The Justice League is the newest addition to Madame Tussauds Orlando. You can snag a picture with Wonder Woman, Superman, or Aquaman!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not is the most unusual thing to do in Orlando. This museum features photos and videos of Mr. Ripley’s most extraordinary collections, including items such as a Portrait of Mona Lisa made of toast, the three-legged man, the fattest man in the world, and Abraham Lincoln’s portrait made of pennies.
Other oddities include a shrunken human head, a dinosaur exhibit including dinosaur eggs, a 10-foot section of the Berlin Wall, a match stick 1907 Rolls Royce, etc.
The Ripley’s Believe It or Not building is over 10,000 square feet and features over 600 exhibits and artifacts. The experience is broken into 16 unique galleries paying particular attention to odd and strange pairings.
Stop by and marvel at the mysterious treasures at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando. Field trips and group trips are welcome at this location.
WonderWorks is a unique amusement park for the brain with 28,000 square feet of “edutainment.” Here you’ll find a combination of education and entertainment with more than 100 hands-on exhibits to challenge the mind and spark creativity.
The story behind the building is “an experiment gone awry lifted the laboratory and carried it to International Drive in Orlando, Florida, where it landed upside-down. Luckily, all of the exhibits remained intact.”
The wonder zones include extreme weather, physical challenge, space discovery, “wonder art,” light and sound, and the imagination lab. In addition, WonderWorks has a three-story indoor ropes course, 3D X.D. Simulator Ride and Laser Tag Arena.
These activities will fill the day with an abundance of fun things to do for the whole family! There’s also an Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show with unlimited pizza, salad, beer, wine, and soda] if anyone is interested in a magic comedy dinner.
Theme Parks and Attractions
Welcome to the theme park capital!
Orlando is known for its famous theme parks, including Disney and other attraction parks. So, of course, we cover Disney and the most popular attractions on our list. Still, we’ve ensured a family-owned establishment and a little bit of everything for the whole family.
SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
Photo credit: Depositphotos.com
This popular destination is home to thousands of underwater creatures, making it a must-see for anyone interested in marine life. Visitors can admire sharks, rays, sea turtles, and more as they swim through three acres of observation areas.
In addition, the aquarium offers educational opportunities, such as behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters. So whether you’re a local looking for a fun day out or a tourist searching for an exciting Orlando attraction, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium will make a splash.
Discovery Cove is a lesser-known theme park in Orlando, but it is fun! One of the unique things to do in Orlando, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort that features animal encounters and aquatic experiences for guests.
This family-friendly theme park restricts attendance to 1,300 guests a day, so book your trip in advance.
Since this is an all-inclusive resort, all meals for the day are included. In addition, families and kids have several different water areas to play in, including the Freshwater Oasis, Wind-Away River, and the Grand Reef, which feature snorkeling fun.
Other activities at Discovery Cove feature feeding birds at Explorer’s Aviary and swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Lagoon. So don’t miss the white sand scattered around the park and enjoy a fun day in the sun!
This hidden gem is such a cool thing to do in Orlando. Gatorland is a family-run business, wildlife preserve, and Orlando’s first theme park opened in 1949.
This is your place if you love alligators, nature, or animals! While you walk around the park, you will notice how many gators there are in different environments.
Check out some lovely Florida native animals in Florida’s amazing ecosystem.
While a few are in pens, most gators swim around in ponds throughout the park. You can even feed baby alligators.
While you might expect alligators at Gatorland, there are also tortoises, wild birds, flamingos, parrots, crocodiles, Florida panthers, and more.
Adrenaline junkies have to try the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. You can zip over gators and crocodiles at nearly 30 MPH.
There are also shows here you can experience the employees’ expertise and love for the animals. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that is Florida in a nutshell!
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, located next to ICON Park, is a must-visit for any mini golf fan with two locations in the Orlando area. There’s plenty of fun for everyone.
The course is themed after a pirate shipwreck, and there are plenty of obstacles to keep things interesting. There’s always something new to discover, from caves and waterfalls to cannons and treasure chests.
And with convenient locations near many of Orlando’s best attractions, it’s the perfect place to take a break and have fun. So whether you’re a seasoned mini golfer or a first-timer, swing by Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf for an unforgettable experience.
SeaWorld Orlando is one of the top theme parks in Orlando, Florida, and it is one of the best things to do if you love marine life. This zoological park includes animal encounters, fun roller coasters, and animal entertainment.
The roller coasters range in excitement levels and have something to suit everyone in the family. The Manta and Kraken are the two most popular roller coasters, and many visitors recommend arriving there first.
SeaWorld is known for its animal shows, and SeaWorld Orlando is no different. Here you can see the Dolphin Adventures, Orca Encounters, and the Sea Lion and Otter Spotlight.
The park also features several aquariums, a pelican preserve, underwater viewing, etc. In addition, SeaWorld Orlando combines with Discovery Cove, which operates as its resort arm, so you can make it an extended vacation and visit both while in town!
Universal Studios is another top-rated destination in Orlando, Florida. However, this theme park is primarily themed to movies, T.V., and the entertainment industry. Universal Studios Florida includes eight themed areas around a large lagoon.
These unique things include Production Central New York, San Francisco, London/Dragon Alley, World Expo, Spring Field, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone, and Hollywood. But, of course, the newest and most popular area is Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
There are many fun rides here, ranging from the Simpsons ride to Men in Black: Alien attack and Hogwarts Express. In addition, this park has activities, themed food and drinks, and fun for adults and children.
The best part of the park is that you can expect to see characters such as Shrek, SpongeBob, Minions, Scooby-Doo, and more while walking around.
Seasonal events are also exciting, including a Grad Bash, Halloween Horror Nights, a Holiday Parade, Mardi Gras, Rock the Universe, a Summer Concert Series, and A Celebration of Harry Potter.
Universal’s Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay is Universal’s latest addition and is one of the best things to do in the entire complex! This waterpark is like nothing else in Orlando, especially on a hot summer day.
Volcano Bay is full of activities for adults and children of all ages. The biggest attraction to the park is the Krakatau Volcano which lives at the center of the waterpark and stands tall at 200 feet. The Volcano hosts many adventures, including waterslides and the great Krakatau aqua coaster.
Other attractions include the Puna Racers, where riders race on mats to see who finishes first. On the other side, there’s a fun TeAwa, the fearless river with fast currents, and the slower Kopiko Wai, a more winding river.
This fun waterpark offers outdoor fun for everyone and is full of cool things to do.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World might be what everyone knows Orlando for, and it is Florida’s largest entertainment resort complex.
This entire property covers almost 25,000 acres, with half of it still unused; the whole resort comprises so many things to do: four theme parks, two water parks, thirty-one resort hotels, golf courses, a camping resort, and an outdoor shopping center called Disney Springs.
The four theme parks are the most prominent attractions at Disney World, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
All four destinations offer different experiences. Whether you have time to visit each one or visit all of them depends on what type of adventure you are looking for:
Magic Kingdom is the most visited park. Magic Kingdom is dedicated to all the fantastic Disney fairytales and Disney characters. Cinderella Castle is the most recognizable part of this part of the park, which welcomes you on the way inside.
Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world! Here you can explore the six themed “lands,” consisting of Main Street U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.
Epcot is dedicated to celebrating human achievement and culture. Once you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by the giant spaceship earth and the entry plaza.
You can explore attractions like the Walt Disney World Monorail System, The Imagination! Pavilion, The Land Pavilion, Mission: Space Pavilion, Wonders of Candar Pavilion, and The Seas Pavilion.
Hollywood Studios is dedicated to the imagined worlds from film and T.V. and features lands from Toy Story, Star Wars, and More. We covered this in-depth above.
Animal Kingdom is a fun zoological theme park that focuses on animal conservation. We also covered this above.
Outdoor Activities Near Orlando
Of course, there are other things to do in Orlando besides theme parks. Orlando is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers.
Orlando and the surrounding areas in Central Florida are known for clear springs that feed nearby lakes and streams. So, there are tons of great spots for paddling adventures in the area for kayakers and paddle boarders.
Here’s a list of great places to kayak near Orlando.
In addition, Orlando is an ideal location for some of the best things to do in Florida. You can drive an hour in almost any direction and find yourself near the ocean or within protected waters.
Blue Springs State Park and the St. Johns River
If you’ve ever dreamed of paddling with a manatee in Orlando, look no further than Blue Springs State Park and the St. Johns River, FL.
In 1970, only two years before the state park was established, only fourteen manatees were in the area. After years of conservation efforts, there are now over 700 manatees in the park as of 2022.
This is a fantastic location to enjoy a day on the water or at the state park. Beyond the manatees, you can also see fish, wading birds, ospreys, eagles, and kingfishers in the park.
In addition to water activities, there is also a 4.5-mile hiking trail, kayak rentals, picnic tables, and a guided riverboat cruise. The park frequently reaches capacity during the week and weekends during the winter and summer, so arrive early to avoid wait times.
Cape Canaveral National Seashore
Cape Canaveral National Seashore is only an hour away from Orlando, Florida. It is the longest stretch of the Undeveloped Atlantic Coastline in Florida.
This national seashore is a barrier island that features dunes, hammocks, and other lagoon habitats that protect from storms. Kayaking is a popular activity along the coast.
In fact, there is an area called “Mosquito Lagoon” that offers 156 miles of recreational opportunities and a 24-hour boat ramp at Apollo Beach.
Additional Cape Canaveral National Seashore activities include backcountry camping, miles of trail hiking, and rocket launch viewing from the Kennedy Space Center.
Fishing is also a very popular activity along Cape Canaveral National Seashore coast. You’ll often see groups of individuals fishing together while you visit.
Chain of Lakes/Winter Park
Winter Park is a suburb of Orlando, Florida, built as a winter getaway for wealthy northerners in the late 1800s. This beautiful area sits on the shore of several lakes, many of which are connected by different channels and canals.
With hanging trees and beautiful flowers, the beauty in this area is one-of-a-kind. Many homes are on shore and have pontoon or lake boats. Living on the water is all a part of the fun.
The best way to explore Winter Park is through a guided kayak tour with Get Up and Go Kayaking. On this two-hour tour, you can explore three beautiful lakes in Winter Park and travel through Venitian-style canals.
You can take several adventures between a daytime tour, sunset excursion, or glow-in-the-dark paddle.
Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon Preserve State Park is a group of three lagoons, including the Mosquito Lagoon, The Banana River, and the Indian River, all located on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
This preserve is one of the most biodiverse estuaries in the Northern Hemisphere. It is home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals.
Indian River Lagoon is 156 miles long and boasts over 150 spoil islands. North Causeway Park is an excellent location to launch your boat, or if you don’t have a kayak, you can rent some from nearby rental companies.
As you explore along the coastline, you can stop at different islands and see which ones have fire rings or are popular with locals. Another access point includes Little Jim Bait and Tackle, near Fort Pierce.
With so much wildlife and islands scattered around Indian River Lagoon, enjoy all the unique things to do around here.
Lake County Blueways
Lake County is a county in Flordia just north of Orlando and is named for the several lakes within its borders. A series of blueways and paddling trails have been set up within the county, connecting major lakes for individuals to enjoy.
Don’t miss out on the Dora Canal, which is a haven for wildlife watching.
The entire area surrounding the towns of Apopka and Leesburg is a joy for kayakers and paddlers. There are a bunch of ramps in the area that allow for boats to access the lakes.
The two major lakes in Lake County are Palatlakaha and Harris. At the bottom of the chain, Lake Louisa State Park offers canoe rentals and a launch. In addition, there are more than 130 miles across the Lake County Blueways for paddlers to enjoy.
Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park is a public park located in Downtown Orlando. With a perfect view of the city and easy access from downtown, it’s a great location to spend the afternoon relaxing in Orlando.
Visitors who want to spend time on the water can rent pedal-powered swan boats on historic Lake Eola to enjoy the fountain up close. In addition, there is a .9-mile paved path to walk around the lake and benches to sit and enjoy the gorgeous flower beds.
The Walt Disney Amphitheater is also located in Lake Eola Park and hosts concerts, movies, or plays. Stop by and check the schedule to catch the next open-air movie! Every Sunday, there is also a Farmers Market at Lake Eola Park,
Lake Toho and its sister lake, East Lake Toho, are famous for bass fishing, with some fish weighing up to 16 pounds caught. Located only minutes from Orlando and Disney, this lake is perfect for paddling, fishing, and relaxing boat days. The lake is 23,000 acres large and offers walking trails, barbeques, restrooms, picnic areas, fishing piers, and more.
Fishing is recommended in the early morning and mid-April-September for the best chance of catching award-winning Bass. Unfortunately, there are no boat rental opportunities here, so bring your own kayak from home to explore the lake.
Lake Toho is also well-known for bird-watching, and kayaking is the perfect way to explore the lake and see wildlife, such as Snail Kites, Wood Storks, Limpkins, and Fulvous Whistling Ducks. Other possible wildlife encounters include alligators, wading birds, otters, turtles, ospreys, and bald eagles.
Shingle Creek runs from Orlando down to Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida. This wonderful thing to do holds the abundant natural charm and offers a seven-mile trail to paddle.
As you pass through the creek, you’ll pass through beautiful old-growth cypress forests, swamps, and the Shingle Creek Regional Park.
You can launch at three pain points if you bring your own boat, including Babb Landing, Steffee Landing, and Marsh Landing. If you’d like to rent a kayak or canoe while there, the Paddling Center at Shingle Creek rents boats and leads group tours of the area for those interested.
Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park is about two hours from Orlando, Florida. This 4,000-acre state park encompasses the springs, the entire 5-mile Silver River, and the surrounding sandhill forest.
Here you can wander through the historic structures, gardens, and historic park areas. So whether you’re interested in paddling the river, hiking, or camping, you can fill your days with Silver Springs State Park activities.
The Silver River flows for five miles from the head spring to its confluence with the Ocklawaha River, all within the confines and protection of Silver Springs State Park.
This route is perfect for exploring, or you can choose shorter, one and two-hour, out-and-back excursions. Whether you want to kayak, canoe, or paddle board, you can bring your own or rent what you need at the park.
There is a nice kayak launch at the park, so if you have a kayak trailer, you can park in the main parking lot.
Wekiva River is one of two rivers in Florida designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. It’s located about an hour away from Orlando.
When you combine the Wekiva River with the Rock Springs run, it creates the Wekiva Paddling Trail. This fantastic trail continues for fifteen miles until it reaches the St. Johns River.
While on the journey, you’ll experience a mix of swift and calm water with frequent changes of pace. You’ll travel through sand pine scrub, pine Flatwoods, hammocks, and swamps. While paddling, you might see some wildlife, including sea otters that call the area home.
There are several islands, tributaries, and lagoons that you can camp on and explore. Primitive camping is allowed with a permit with some sites on the trail.
Wekiwa Springs State Park is a great place to spend a day too.
Other fun things to do in Orlando
The Orlando Kart Center is the perfect place for an adrenaline-filled day of go-karting. There’s plenty of racing, and the staff is always friendly and helpful. So whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, the Orlando Kart Center is one of Orlando’s best go-kart tracks and will give you an unforgettable day of go-karting fun.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Orlando is a great place to take a hot air balloon ride! The weather is excellent for ballooning, and there are some beautiful places to see from above, like Disney.
Seeing the iconic castles and rides from a bird’s eye view is an unforgettable experience. In addition, several hot air balloon companies offer private rides so that you can find the best experience for you.
Whatever type of hot air balloon ride you’re looking for, you will find it in Orlando!
Orlando Premium Outlets
If shopping is your jam, look no further than Orlando Premium Outlets. With over 180 stores, there’s something for everyone at this world-class shopping destination.
You’ll find all your favorite designer brands at budget-friendly prices, including Nike, Ralph Lauren, and Gap. And if you’re looking for a unique souvenir to remember your trip, you’ll surely find it here.
In addition to its incredible selection, Orlando Premium Outlets offers a convenient location just minutes from the major theme parks.
So whether you’re in town for a vacation or just a weekend getaway, add Orlando Premium Outlets to your list of must-see destinations.
The Great Magic Hall
If you’re looking for some magic in your life, you’ll find it at the Great Magic Hall in Kissimmee. This family-friendly attraction offers unique experiences and a wide range of fun magic shows, perfect for visitors of all ages.
From classic illusions to death-defying feats of escape, the Great Magic Hall has something to amaze everyone. And if you’re feeling brave, you can try some tricks yourself!
With so much to see and do, the Great Magic Hall is the perfect place to add to your list of fun things to do in Orlando.
There are so many opportunities for exciting things to do in Orlando that you could book weeks of travel and fill every day with activities. Between the multitude of museums and the endless amusement parks, there is so much to keep friends and family busy.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back day, try paddling any of the local waterways.